Today I have something a little different for you! An interview with Vanessa from Leather and Abel. She’s been my friend for a many years now, since we met in Japan. One of my favourite memories with Vanessa is when we went to go work in a Japanese orphanage together for a day; an event that she’d put SO MUCH effort and work into, because the orphan owners were worried that the kids would be scared by our foreignness and be stressed at the language barrier. It was an amazing day and the kids loved playing with us. I’ve always admired how hard she works and how she doesn’t see barriers in the world around her, like I do with my worries and anxiety.
Today she lives with her lovely guy Jason in Germany, and they have a really cute blog together that I think you should all go add to your bookmarks list.
So here is my little interview! enjoy!
Why did you decide to live in Germany?
I’m half-German and my education was actually at the German School in London, but I’d never really thought about living in the land of sausages. Then my boyfriend Jason and I went to visit my German family near Hannover and then spent just two days in Berlin. We completely fell in love with this amazing capital city, returned to London to quit our jobs and a few weeks later we were living in Berlin without a plan.
Do you think it is easier to live abroad for people of our generation than to get a job back home?
I don’t think it’s that hard to get a job in England, it’s just that our generation is very fussy. We have jobs we want and will do and we focus so much on our dreams, that we let other jobs go by. All jobs can give you experience and contacts and push you into a career you hadn’t thought of. I think our generation is a little lazy in that respect. Living abroad is always going to be a little harder as we are leaving our comfort zone, but it’s such a great learning curve and I can only recommend it. I think a lot of people go abroad just expecting the world to welcome them, but not knowing the local language or having marketable skills still make it hard to get a job. I would say do a lot of research before you go abroad, use all your contacts and save a lump sum of money to get you settled and then… just do it!
We both had the same Japanese teacher when we were younger; Mary Grace Browning. Why did you decide to learn Japanese?
Actually, I first met MG when I was 18. I was interested in a two-week sponsored trip to Japan because my grandfather had been a FePOW (Japanese Prisoner during World War II). By the end of my phonecall to MG, I was practically stepping on a plane to live in Japan for half a year. I went off for my first trip to Japan to live with a host family who spoke not a word of English and because I like to chat (a lot), I pushed myself to learn Japanese. I was lucky, as I was placed in a small town, went to a Japanese school every day and was surrounded by the language. I found it so much fun to learn, that I went on to University in London to study Japanese properly.
You’re working freelance with your lovely gentleman. Do you prefer it to working full time in a company?
Hmmm. Difficult question. My job in London was more than full-time – I worked in TV news and would get calls in the middle of the night when a story broke, weekends were spent on stand-by and I was called even when abroad on holiday. Sometimes I would go into work expecting a normal day at my desk and by lunchtime I was on a plane to North Africa. It was an amazing job, but it was tiring and stressful and I went quite grey. I needed a break for my health, as I was exhausted all the time. Freelance has different stresses, you have to hope work comes in and when it does it completely takes over your life. Chasing payments is also a hassle, but the stories I work on now are so much happier – news is usually bad news and now I do more documentary-style programmes which are really fun!
Why do you feel that more people are working freelance these days?
Times have changed. I can do all my research on my computer, all I need is an internet connection. Jason does a lot of online translation work, so there’s no need for a company to pay for overheads like deskspace etc if he works from his living room, so I think companies are also pushing for people to work from home. Standing in a packed tube, spending all my money on rent and travel isn’t the way I want to use up my salary every month, I’d much rather be in my pajamas at home and I think our generation knows this can be done and is pushing for it.
Are there any more countries that you’d like to live in? Would you consider yourself settled where you are?
My plan after Japan was to become a farmer in South America. I want guaranteed sunshine and warmth and I want to grow things that I can eat. Jason is a little terrified of all the creepy crawlies out there, so I’m trying to ‘compromise’ on Spain. I feel like I hit the ‘OMG I LOVE GERMANY’ stage a few months back and I’m now feeling restless again and ready for a new adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I love our life – working part-time, eating well, our apartment is amazing (https://www.airbnb.com/c/
Tell us about your lovely blog, why you decided to start, and what kinds of things you write about?
I started our blog as a kind of portfolio of my writing style. I work in TV journalism, but I’d love to write articles and a blog is a great way of showing people your style of writing. Also it’s a lovely way for our friends and family back home to see what we’re up to. We mostly blog about cheesecake in Berlin – I’m doing extensive research on the topic – and fun things to do in Berlin. We travel around Germany and all over the world a lot and we write about our travel adventures, about our hobbies (sewing, boardgames, swing dancing) and our life in Berlin.
What’s the best thing about blogging?
It’s such a wonderful diary of the life you have. I love going on our blog and looking at past posts and seeing how much fun we have had. I’ve also discovered some really interesting blogs to follow and have learnt a bit about how to set up a blog!
What have you learnt since started blogging (it’s a little over a year now, right?!)
We’ve had our blog for over a year now and although Jason set the entire thing up, I’ve been learning. I’ve noticed that beautiful photos are really important to get people looking at your blog, really really long posts are not as popular as short fun ones and there is a great blogging community out there, you just need to find your niche. Knowing how to set up a website is a very marketable skill and you can really tell if the writer is enjoying writing as it comes across in the posts.
Please go check out Leather and Abel, it’s a really lovely blog written by really lovely people!